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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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So the good people at Chandlers BMW hooked me up with their REx demonstrator for the weekend. Like the BEV car Grant had, mine was also in Solar Orange with the 20" wheel option. This isn't really a review - just a collection of thoughts. Sorry if it's a ramble.

I didn't really spend much time on the theory (lack of manual saw to that) or a detailed examination of the spec, but the car definitely had:

- Loft Interior World
- Driving Assistant Plus
- BMW Professional Media Package
- Enhanced Bluetooth/Voice Control
- Winter pack
- LED Headlamps
- Privacy Glass

The dealership had also helpfully included the BMW Public charge cable (accessory) and a ChargeNow card. I used neither, but thoughtful nonetheless. On pickup the car was fully charged, and with about 2/3 of a tank of fuel. I brimmed the car (just about fulfilling the minimum delivery requirement of three litres) to start logging and obtained the following stats:

324 miles
Max single journey 110 miles
72 kWh charged (mix of peak and off-peak)
5.41 litres of unleaded used
£8.56 of electricity
£7.49 of unleaded
4.95 pence per mile (aggregate)
3.19 pence per mile (elec driving)

EDIT: recharge from dead takes 21 kWh, spot on for the reported 18.8kWh usable capacity plus ten percent

I forgot to zero the miles per kWh computer, but was achieving 4.5 on a motorway run in Eco Pro mode - keeping around 65.

From full charge, REx activated after about 72 miles on day 1. Day 2 I activated it manually at 75% charge (Max battery level possible to activate) in order to drive more on battery at the destination.

The REx really does kick in and out seamlessly. Both times I was on the motorway and you can only tell because of the instrument display changes (iconography and colour). It is extremely smooth and also has stop/start capability. This works much more smoothly than in an ICE car because of the buffer or residual charge allows the motor to cut out before you stop and only kick back in after you've started to roll - it's not needed in order to get you rolling. In town it is indeed audible but sounds like a muffled motorbike waiting behind you rather than having a sense of it being in the car with you. I have no idea how you access it, or add oil to it (?) or what have you. I am not a biker so have no experience of such motors. The only fluid caps I saw were in the frunk - washer fluid and either a brake/steering fluid reservoir, which was partially hidden.

The REx held a state of charge perfectly until I deactivated it coming into town after 40-odd motorway miles. Slight niggle in that this option is buried in the (admittedly excellent) updated iDrive menu structure. The system is a benchmark but having the REx control at the same depth as e.g. choosing what lighting scheme to have in the cabin (Modern or Classic) seems wrong for a major driving function. The fact that the iDrive knob is now also a touchpad makes Nav changes to choose nearby POIs a doddle. The split screen navigation is the best I've ever seen. First time I've ever used an iDrive with my left hand. Didn't half feel odd, after the LHD Active E.

So - driving it. Nothing much to add to what we all know - it's zippy, sure footed and in urban traffic nothing comes close. In and around London, where you need to be psychic to figure out a lane, the car gives you a second more thinking time and can access any gap. I knew the turning circle was tight but being able to do a u-turn in one go and manoeuvre the car into gaps I'd never attempt in any other vehicle is a revelation. It's 3999mm long - I reckon I need 4.2m to park it - astounding. I loved every minute of being behind the wheel. A very different car in feel to the Active E - and more enjoyable for it. I'm sure being 600kg lighter is the key factor, obviously,

For such a small footprint, it didn't seem to have small car compromises. I'm 6'5" and I didn't have the seat all the way back. The adjustment between that and the steering column meant I achieved a level of comfort as good as any I've achieved having driven 60-odd cars on 4 continents. It has a head restraint that I can actually put my head on. Small things, but they stand out. I like the raised driving position, but the elk test I gave it didn't present any issues except understeer.

Access to the back was fine for my 7yo lad (who loved it), and he gets a much better view in the rear than from our Prius. It may not be obvious with it having 4 doors, but the seat backs still do tip forward if needed. One definite issue though is that over-the-shoulder visibility on the onside is poor, but with a full child seat it creates a massive blind spot. Not an issue as long as you keep mobile in the cabin and lean into the onside mirror, but I've never experienced it before to such a degree.

A few niggles trying to get it to charge - in a stroke of luck/perk I managed to get my 16A Chargemaster tethered J1772 unit swapped out for the equivalent untethered Type 2 outlet model on Friday. It took a few goes repeating the connection sequence to get it to charge, and unlocking the car seems to stop the charge entirely. It got a little better (but not cured completely) once I found the options buried in the iDrive that allowed me to set the charge for both types of cable to "Maximum". The car seems to be delivered with "Reduced" being set. I'm betting I'm the first person in 4500 demo miles to get that deep into the settings, and it's a prudent play but in the absence of a manual I expect some owners may never realise. The message was the same each time: "mains current too low" - odd. Might need to do some extra testing on that type. Anyhoo, was able to charge at home and thus didn't need a public option. Not that there is much in Kent or Sussex - I'd say between the South Coast and the M25 there is a mahoosive black hole of nothing.

The lack of a physical manual is an odd one. The whole thing is contained on the iDrive, but I like to digest the thing cover to cover to learn - there doesn't even seem to be a digital download version available. I'm sure it's a treasure trove of personalisation - the car comes with 4 profiles, and you pick one every time you start it.

I'd like to be able to turn off the "Insufficient Charge to Reach Destination" warning when I have plenty of petrol to be able to do so.

The biggest issue I had was a "booming" noise at speed on dual carriageway. Around 60-65 it's really noticeable - more so than the quieter "scored disc" warble described on Grant's review thread. Personally I'd never have the 20" wheels (prefer ride quality to ten tenths handling) and the 19s may not give rise to the same noise. If I'd have had more time, I would have played with the tyre pressures to try to increase economy and also to try and tune the noise out. When I did look at the type pressure monitor, all 4 pressures were different. They were displayed in Bar too, and so would have looked more inconsistent displayed in my preferred psi.

But all in all, superb vehicle. All the advantages of a full electric vehicle, with that extra comfort of being able to just run the battery down. I do think that for long planned trips I'd carry a 5l can to make sure I didn't have to stop too often if the phasing of petrol stations relative to miles remaining wasn't great. Don't know if you can run the petrol tank dry (if you so wished) while still having charge in the battery.

It's a real head turner. On the road passengers and drivers alike looked my way. I had the thing two days, and two strangers came up to me when parked and gave me a right old grilling about it - I was happy to oblige and give them the full tour. I even shared a mutual thumbs up with a pristine white Leaf MK1.5 at a set of traffic lights in SE London on Friday night. Then I smoked him, obviously.
 

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Hi Mark, good "ramble". Enjoyed reading that :)

Slight niggle in that this option is buried in the (admittedly excellent) updated iDrive menu structure. The system is a benchmark but having the REx control at the same depth as e.g. choosing what lighting scheme to have in the cabin (Modern or Classic) seems wrong for a major driving function.
It's possible to map pretty much any idrive function to the 1-8 buttons on the dash. Just select the option in idrive then hold down one of the number buttons for more than 2 seconds. The i3 I test drove was mapped like this so that you could manually turn the REx on/off without drilling down into the idrive menu.

It may not be obvious with it having 4 doors, but the seat backs still do tip forward if needed.
Yep, I've read quite a few comments about how difficult it is to get into the back but I'm sure that must be because they just haven't found the lever behind the headrest that allows you to tip the seats (it's not obvious!).

It got a little better once I found the options buried in the iDrive that allowed me to set the charge for both types of cable to "Maximum". The car seems to be delivered with "Reduced" being set. I'm betting I'm the first person in 4500 demo miles to get that deep into the settings, and it's a prudent play but in the absence of a manual I expect some owners may never realise.
There's a thread about this in the i3 forum. The default must just be set like that for safety reasons? I'm currently driving around in my dealer's i3 (I was supposed to collect my REx on Saturday but it's delayed until tomorrow so they've lent me theirs) and I checked it when I got home. This car has been set to max. I also watched the meter on the wallbox and saw it feeding between 7.0 and 7.4kw when charging.

The lack of a physical manual is an odd one. The whole thing is contained on the iDrive, but I like to digest the thing cover to cover to learn - there doesn't even seem to be a digital download version available. I'm sure it's a treasure trove of personalisation - the car comes with 4 profiles, and you pick one every time you start it.
There should be a handbook with the car. There is also a pdf which I'll send you via PM.

The biggest issue I had was a "booming" noise at speed on dual carriageway. Around 60-65 it's really noticeable - more so than the quieter "scored disc" warble described on Grant's review thread. Personally I'd never have the 20" wheels (prefer ride quality to ten tenths handling) and the 19s may not give rise to the same noise.
Got to say, I haven't heard this. The car I test drove had the 428 19" and the car I'm driving at the moment has the standard 427 19" and neither seemed "boomy". I haven't driven a car with 20". My own car is spec'd with the 428 19" so hopefully I won't suffer this noise as it's the sort of thing that would definitely annoy me.

One thing you didn't mention... did you decide to place your order ?
 

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Nice report Mark. Do you think the interest shown in it by the general populace may have been influenced to some extent by the writing all over the side? ;-) Nobody notices my Ampera - except when its parked on my drive. Maybe I'll get a transfer to stick on the drivers door lol.
 

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Good objective report Mark.

Have you ever had an Ampera / Volt to test as I'd be really interested in your thoughts?

Big Paul
 

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Good objective report Mark.

Have you ever had an Ampera / Volt to test as I'd be really interested in your thoughts?

Big Paul
Any particular aspects Paul?
 

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I ran an Ampera for a couple of months, and did an extended test in an i3 rex (and getting my new i3 next week). Any comparison in particular you are interested in?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Mark, good "ramble". Enjoyed reading that :)
Thanks very much!

It's possible to map pretty much any idrive function to the 1-8 buttons on the dash. Just select the option in idrive then hold down one of the number buttons for more than 2 seconds. The i3 I test drove was mapped like this so that you could manually turn the REx on/off without drilling down into the idrive menu.
I did see your kind reply first thing on Monday morning, and it turns out button 8 was indeed mapped - D'Oh!

Yep, I've read quite a few comments about how difficult it is to get into the back but I'm sure that must be because they just haven't found the lever behind the headrest that allows you to tip the seats (it's not obvious!).
Back seats were dead easy to access, for sure.

There's a thread about this in the i3 forum. The default must just be set like that for safety reasons? I'm currently driving around in my dealer's i3 (I was supposed to collect my REx on Saturday but it's delayed until tomorrow so they've lent me theirs) and I checked it when I got home. This car has been set to max. I also watched the meter on the wallbox and saw it feeding between 7.0 and 7.4kw when charging.
It's a good idea, as it provides a prompt to get installations checked - wonder if it's called out in the handover procedure though?

There should be a handbook with the car. There is also a pdf which I'll send you via PM.
Brilliant - got that. Thanks muchly.

Got to say, I haven't heard this. The car I test drove had the 428 19" and the car I'm driving at the moment has the standard 427 19" and neither seemed "boomy". I haven't driven a car with 20". My own car is spec'd with the 428 19" so hopefully I won't suffer this noise as it's the sort of thing that would definitely annoy me
The 428s would also be my personal choice.

One thing you didn't mention... did you decide to place your order ?
Bloody nearly. I have to extricate myself from the company car scheme first.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Nice report Mark. Do you think the interest shown in it by the general populace may have been influenced to some extent by the writing all over the side? ;-) Nobody notices my Ampera - except when its parked on my drive. Maybe I'll get a transfer to stick on the drivers door lol.
Now you mention it, it did perhaps have a "stop me and buy one" vibe going on. Never gave it a thought, as I often drive all manner of branded vehicles.

The Ampera is bit of a Q-Car though - for me there's just something about it that makes it undemonstrative. Not bad necessarily - just a little anonymous.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Good objective report Mark.

Have you ever had an Ampera / Volt to test as I'd be really interested in your thoughts?

Big Paul
I've had a couple of short test drives, but not had one over an extended period. Was impressed though - could live with one quite easily I expect.

Downside for me is that the Range Extender seems to a motor GM had kicking around rather than one more matched to the purpose. BMW have a wider range to choose from, but a small low-torque bike engine is better optimised for generation than one designed to provide motion. A generator needs very little torque and can spin up in 30 seconds and then run constant rather than spinning up and down the Rev range in 2 or 3 seconds for an ICE car powerplant. The Ampera engine is actually overengineered for the purpose IMO rather than being unsuitable. It could be weedier and get better mileage...

I've seen a few research projects into some motors designed specifically for the purpose of acting as a REx. Quite different to boggo 4-stroke petrol efforts.
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Finally it looks like I have decoded the clues during the right phase of the moon and executed the perfect handshake with one hand while sacrificing the right kind of chicken with the other to extricate myself from our car scheme.

Order going in shortly...
 

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I loved the i3 Rex, I too had it on demo for a couple of days but in the end couldn't justify the added cost over the leaf (read couldn't afford) :(

Not quite as practical as the leaf though with quite a few features missing from the tekna spec unless you're prepared to pay for them on the i3 I think my configured i3 Rex ended up at about 37k
 

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Thanks for sharing your impressions. A 'top of mind' summary of what you noticed is far more interesting (and useful) than an MOT checklist type of review.
 

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I recently had a relatively short drive in one with REX, and being a fan of lots of regen I loved the almost single pedal drive capability. The ride was nice, the performance excellent and the Rex almost inaudible. I didnt like the interior panels that looked like dirty compressed garden fleece, not sure how that would stand up to grubby, sticky kids or even placing a half eaten apple on the dash. That feels a bit tacky in such a sylish interior. Not being used to modern high tech cars with data excessive dash boards, I found the dash (Two screens) to be almost impossible to take in all that was being displayed. Lovely graphics and sharp display. Just too much of it.
I was surprised at some of the visual quality (Lay up looked untidy is the only way I can describe it) of the layup in the carbon fibre structure. If you are going to expose it, it has to be perfect. I gather there have been quality control issues with the manufacturing process, which relies heavily on manual placement of the precut sheets.
As a car I would love to have one, I feel the small fuel tank (Aparently restricted by Califoria regs) is a limiting factor, but personally I live with full EVs and live with restricted range , I do have a diesel as well as two EVs in use for two drivers in the family. I dont think we could shift to two vehicles one being an I3 with Rex, or longer distance runs tend to be just that, 2 or 300 mile round trips in a day.

Grumpy-b
 

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Question from this side of the Pond.

Is it common for auto dealers to let prospective purchasers take the test drive home/overnight? In the US (with the exception of Tesla), you get to drive it for a few minutes, then haggle at the price.
 

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Question from this side of the Pond.

Is it common for auto dealers to let prospective purchasers take the test drive home/overnight? In the US (with the exception of Tesla), you get to drive it for a few minutes, then haggle at the price.
I've borrowed one now for 3 different days no problem, although only because my car was having a service.
 

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I've borrowed one now for 3 different days no problem, although only because my car was having a service.
We have LOANER cars for folks that are having vehicles serviced. Tesla, when available, loans out Model S for having a car in service (Roadster or Model S) and used to loan out the top of the line P85+ back in the day... (now S85 and S60s).

My question was more with regard to prospective buyers of a vehicle (who just walk in off the street, etc.)
 

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Question from this side of the Pond.

Is it common for auto dealers to let prospective purchasers take the test drive home/overnight? In the US (with the exception of Tesla), you get to drive it for a few minutes, then haggle at the price.
Seems to vary wildly but I've known several dealers offer 24 hour test drives - sometimes even weekend loans, to potential customers. BUT, it's more normal for a short trip around the block and "is this the car for you?" sales pitches.
 

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Seems to vary wildly but I've known several dealers offer 24 hour test drives - sometimes even weekend loans, to potential customers. BUT, it's more normal for a short trip around the block and "is this the car for you?" sales pitches.
That's pretty cool.
 
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